I don't care what Florence and the Machine say, the dog days are most certainly not over, at least not yet. Now that I have my obligatory terrible joke out of the way, we can talk about today's game, featuring the Oakland A's and the only team under .500 in the AL East.
The Rays, after winning three straight games, two of three against the Rockies and the series-opener in Oakland, had dropped two straight entering Sunday's matinee. Two straight losses due to the team letting down the starting pitching who threw a good game. Well, that trend continued on Sunday.
Blake Snell took the bump and got off to a rocky start. The first inning saw a stretch of four straight hits allowed by the Rays' rookie, plating two runs, one on a Khris Davis double and the other on a Billy Butler base hit.
After the rough beginning, Snell settled in and, while not exactly efficient, he was certainly effective, tossing up 5.2 innings of zeroes while striking out four and walking two A's hitters in 6.2 innings of total work. It took him 99 pitches to work less than seven innings, which speaks to his inefficiency, but he definitely gave his team a chance to work its way back into control in the ballgame.
In the other dugout, former Rays' prospect Jessie Hahn was taking on his first MLB team for the first time in his career, and he certainly pitched like he had a chip on his shoulder. Hahn wen 7.2 innings only needing 90 pitches, holding Tampa Bay to one run four hits through those innings.
The game stayed 2-0 and pretty uneventful, save for a couple great defensive plays by Evan Longoria, who jumped to the top of the league in fielding-percentage among third baseman, until the eighth inning.
With two outs and a Kevin Kiermaier on, Hahn was lifted for reliever Ryan Dull. The first batter Dull faced was Logan Forsythe. Dull left a pitch inside and over the plate and Forsythe made him pay. He hit a line drive home run to the corner in leftfield and it got out in a hurry. Suddenly, this was a baseball game again! The Rays had rallied late in the game and excitement took hold.
Until the bottom of the inning.
Erasmo Ramirez, who had taken over for Snell and the last out in the seventh, came back out in the bottom of the eighth. After retiring the first batter in this new, tied game, he left a 93MPH fastball dead-center of the strike zone to Butler. Now Butler isn't the power-hitting, 30 home run imposing force he used to be, proven by his grand total of two home runs entering play today, but he does still have power, as any major-leaguer should when given a gift-wrapped pitch right down the pipe. He crushed the ball on a line to straight away centerfield, putting the A's back on top 3-2. Ramirez knew the outcome as soon as the ball left the bat and, frankly, so did anyone watching.
Ryan Madson came on in the top of the ninth for Oakland and retired the Rays in order, including two strikeouts, for his 21st save of the season.
Hey Florence, are the dog days over yet?
In Other News
- The Rays start a two game set against the Dodgers on Tuesday in LA, Chris Archer's potential new digs.
- Chris Sale really wants out of Chicago
- And finally, today is Hall of Fame induction day, and Cooperstown gets two of my baseball heroes from my childhood in Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. I don't know if there was a better class-act in baseball than Junior and he's still drawing a $4 million check from the Reds every year through 2025, which is a pretty sweet gig. And Piazza hit arguably the most meaningful home run of my generation in the first game back in New York after 9/11. I still get chills watching it. And of course, don't forget his 424 other home runs and his .308 career average from the catcher's position. Both are truly Cooperstown worthy; tips of the cap to them!